How to Object to a Planning Application
Are you concerned about a new development in your neighbourhood? Want to find out how to object to a planning application? You’re not alone. Every year, just in England, well over 400,000 of planning applications are submitted and not all of them are met with universal approval. Did you know that on average, each planning application receives 2.2 objections?
Whether it’s a large extension that blocks your light or a new housing development that threatens the local environment, you have the right to object. This blog post aims to guide you through the nature of a planning objection, relevant legislation, and how to make an effective objection to the planning department.
What is a Planning Objection?
Planning permission is required for development which falls outside the definition of permitted development and which includes new buildings, extensions, works to buildings and the change of use of land and buildings. A planning objection is a formal expression of disapproval or concern regarding a proposed development. Unlike a simple complaint, an objection is a legal process that can influence the outcome of a planning application. It’s not merely a “thumbs down” on a project; it’s a way to ensure that developments adhere to local planning policies and regulations.
Understanding the legal landscape is crucial when objecting to a planning application. In the UK, the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 is the primary legislation governing planning applications. This act helps to outline what can and cannot be considered a valid objection. For instance, objections based on the loss of a view are not usually considered valid, whereas concerns about traffic congestion, noise pollution, and impact on local amenities are.
How to Object Effectively
Before you pen your objection, make sure you’ve done your homework. You don’t want to write to object to an application and your objection fail to be considered as you failed to understand the plans correctly or made incorrect assumptions. Familiarise yourself with the planning application in question, which is usually available on your local council’s website. Look for Plans, and documents such as a Planning Statement, Design and Access Statement, an Ecology Survey, or other relevant documents that accompany the application. Consider Local Planning Policies as well as the National Policy Planning Framework in England.
Be Specific and Factual
General objections like “I don’t like it” won’t carry much weight. Your objection should be specific, factual, and backed up by evidence. For example, if you’re concerned about increased traffic, cite studies or data that support your claim.
Raise valid planning objections
Make sure your your letter refers to valid reasons for objecting to a planning application (read our blog post on this issue here), because the Council will only take into account the valid planning issues and will disregard other considerations unless they are relevant to planning.
When objecting to a planning application, concentrate on those aspects of a development which are likely to be unacceptable such as for example the visual impact, effect on the character and appearance, possible noise and disturbance, and concerns of overlooking and loss of privacy. On the other hand, the loss of a view or an adverse impact on property values is not a relevant planning consideration, and so the Council will not take that into account.
Follow the Procedure
Each local authority has its own procedure for submitting objections, usually outlined on their website. Make sure you follow these guidelines to the letter. Missing a deadline or failing to include required information can invalidate your objection.
Consult with Neighbours
There’s strength in numbers. If multiple people in your community share your concerns, consider submitting a joint objection. This not only amplifies your voice but also demonstrates a broader community impact. However don’t fall into the trap of trying to organise a petition as it will not carry any weight. Also avoid using a standard letter. You should write objections in your own words – or better yet, use Planning Voice. Objections that are written using a standardised form will not carry the same weight as bespoke letters researched and written by an experienced, Chartered Town Planner.
Seek Professional Advice
It is definitely worth engaging a planning consultant who specialises in planning objections. Their expertise will guide you through the intricacies of the legal process and help you craft a more compelling case.
Don’t forget the limit limit!
It is vital to understand the time limit to object to a planning application. Councils always request comments within a time limit (usually within 21 days of notification), but in practice they will take into account any comments received before the application is actually determined. So check the Council’s website as it might not be too late to comment if the planning application hasn’t been determined. However, we recommend you submit your planning objection as early as possible.
Objecting to a planning application is not just a right but a civic duty for those concerned about the future of their community. By understanding the nature of planning objections, being aware of relevant legislation, and following best practices, you can make a meaningful impact on local developments.